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Easter: New and abundant life for all

FAMILY ON EASTER
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Let it be Easter then every day. Let all our days witness our passage from the old to the new ...

During this time of year, the Catholic world prepares for the celebration of the most important holy day of the liturgical year: Easter—the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This essay will explore two aspects of this feast, two very important meanings that this holy day has for all of humanity, for the Christian world, and for our North American society.

First, the confession of faith in the Resurrection of Christ has a historical basis or reflection in the transformation of life experienced by the first Christians; these men and women recognized and proclaimed to each other and to non-Christians that they had become new men and women, with a transformed mentality. They were now able to understand the whole life project of Jesus of Nazareth; and now they could live out its principles and put them into practice, fueled by a new vision of God, of the world, and of the “other,” their neighbor.

Some of the disciples who had accompanied Jesus in his travels and ministry—his first witnesses, his intimates, but who clumsily did not understand him, and instead denied and abandoned him—now were sent into the world. Two thousand years ago they began their mission proclaiming that Christ was alive, that he lived in them because he had radically changed, renewed, and transformed their lives. Now they were living out, in its fullness, the commandment to love; they recognized that all men are brothers, children of the same Father in heaven—just as Jesus had taught and shown them.

How much we all need this each and every day: this personal renewal and this transformation in order to become better human beings, to transform ourselves—to move forward. This is precisely what the word Pasch means in Hebrew: “to step,” to step over and let go of resentments, fears, small and big hatreds, this focus on differences, intolerance, discrimination, quarrels, divisions, and all forms of violence and death. We all need to move forward toward new ways of understanding and living life–new, renewed and transformed ways of relating to each other. This makes coexistence possible, a coexistence that, even if it is not always fraternal, is at least humane and civilized!

For all of us, the first meaning of the Christian Easter is new life. And how much does this message of Easter not apply, with so much urgency and necessity, to our American society, in the here and now?

We are surrounded and distressed by a thousand forms of violence and death in our homes, our streets and our schools. We are overwhelmed by unemployment and dread of the future, fear of diseases and political uncertainty; then there is the use of drugs by so many people, especially the young, and the destruction addiction wreaks in so many families; plus, there is the loss or distortion of traditional values because of the primacy of having over being, the pursuit of pleasure and power at all costs—regardless of the means—as the ultimate goal of human existence, etc.

This reality threatens to suffocate the potential of human life and harms and hardens the coexistence of all of us in contemporary society. The situation clamors—with great urgency—for a transformation, a change, a metanoia, a new life. It clamors for people whose lives are transformed as well as the reconstruction and renewal of institutions so that they become more just, more supportive, and more humane.

Second—and inseparable from the power of Easter to transform lives—the confession of the Resurrection of Jesus signifies a triumph of life over death, a step away from failure and toward victory. Thus, Easter also stands for an “abundance of life” as the ultimate destiny of human kind, of every man and woman who comes into the world.

Today’s many ills, as mentioned, that afflict and distress individuals and society at large, call us to a daily task; we have a calling to progress from the bad to the good, from the inhuman to the human and humane, from the mediocre to our best selves, from lies and errors to the truth and honesty, from the twisted and confused to a clear conscience. We can make such progress through our words and in our actions, building up—through that step forward, that transformation, that novelty in our lives—the room for abundant life.

Let us embrace abundant life, so that, in our nation, it can manifest itself in the realms of law and politics, in economics, and in the quality of inter-communal and interpersonal relations, in the world of art and sciences, in the exercise of our professions and in all our daily tasks, and so too in the world of entertainment, recreation and sports, in our religious practice, etc.

Our society—proud of and enriched by so many material achievements—is the stage for so many accomplishments and the reason for so much hope for so many who have come here or dream of doing so. Yet, at the same time, within and without or borders, there are so many who are suffering the pain of unfulfilled dreams, unfulfilled longings, and dashed hopes; the pain of a thousand injuries inflicted by unjust and inhuman ways of life. All of this demands from us that we embrace a new life—and invite others to do the same—to embrace Easter’s promise of an abundant life, the prosperous, full and happy life for which we all yearn.

Let it be Easter then every day. Let all our days witness our passage from the old to the new, and from scarcity, and petty and precarious ways of life, to a truly abundant life!

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